Knicks Rumors: NY Considering Maintaining Cap Space to Pursue Max Free Agent in 2022

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 19, 2021

MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 09: President Leon Rose of the New York Knicks looks on during the third quarter against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on February 09, 2021 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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The New York Knicks may not look to break the bank this summer after reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

SNY's Ian Begley reported Monday the Knicks might instead prioritize maintaining future financial flexibility:

"As recently as last month, a source said the Knicks have talked internally about the possibility of holding enough cap space this summer for 2022 and keeping enough money around to be able to go after a max player in that 2022 class, which should include Zach LaVine and Bradley Beal."
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With the NBA Draft and free agency just around the corner, the Knicks have some big decisions to make. <br><br>They could hold off on big deals this summer in order to keep their cap space open for the 2022 free agent class.<br><br>(<a href="https://twitter.com/IanBegley?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@IanBegley</a>) <a href="https://t.co/jGB8mpEhYq">pic.twitter.com/jGB8mpEhYq</a>

It would be in keeping with how the Knicks have operated for the past 10 to 15 years for them to create so much positive momentum in 2020-21 and then hand out a big contract or two that almost immediately becomes regrettable.

Moderation would be the franchise's best approach to free agency.

There isn't a player on the market whom the Knicks could realistically add to transform their championship hopes overnight.

Kawhi Leonard, who can opt out of his contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, fits the bill, but he just had surgery for a partial tear of his right ACL. NBA insider Marc Stein also reported "the notion that Leonard is unattainable seems to be waning a bit as the Aug. 2 start of free agency nears" but that a return to the Clippers is still believed to be the likeliest outcome anyway.

Waiting a year to really attack free agency also buys the front office time to better see what it already has on the roster.

RJ Barrett made healthy progress in his second season, averaging 17.6 points and shooting 44.1 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from beyond the arc. Immanuel Quickley was a pleasant surprise, putting up 11.4 points and 2.0 assists in 19.4 minutes per game. Maybe Julius Randle rebounds from a forgettable postseason and fully asserts himself as a long-term building block.

The Knicks also have two first-round picks (No. 19 and 21) that could be leveraged into more ready-made talent. The Athletic's Zach Harper reported they may instead use those first-rounders to move up in the 2021 draft.

By reaching the playoffs in Tom Thibodeau's first season, New York was way ahead of schedule. Being too aggressive now might risk undoing some of that progress by leaving the team's hands tied over the next few years.